India: India registered a record rise in coronavirus infections on Monday, converting the second country after the United States (US) to post more than 100,000 new cases in a day, as politicians stage huge election rallies raising fears of further spreading the COVID-19 virus.
Hospitals in the most severely affected state, Maharashtra, are being overrun by patients. India’s wealthiest state, home to its commercial capital Mumbai and numerous industries, reached a record 57,074 new cases overnight.
The country’s daily contaminations have increased about 12 fold since hitting a multi-month low in early February, when government authorities eased most restrictions and people mainly stopped wearing masks and obeying social distancing.
By 103,558 new infections, India has now reached 12.6 million cases, the largest after the US and Brazil, data from the health ministry showed. Deaths bounced by 478, still one of the lowest fatality rates in the world, raising the total to 165,101.
India has registered the most number of infections in the past few weeks anywhere in the globe. More contagious variants of the COVID virus may have played a role in the 2nd surge, some epidemiologists say.
Rajib Dasgupta, head of the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health in New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said the new variant, or variants of concern, probably explains a lot of it, rather than simplistic explanation of behaviour.
India has found numbers of cases of the virus variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.
Subhash Salunke, a former World Health Organisation (WHO) official who advises Maharashtra on its coronavirus strategy, said cases in the state would proceed to rise for another couple of weeks. He said a way out was injecting all adults in its hardest-hit cities such as Mumbai, Pune & Nashik.
“If we began doing this, by the end of April, we would see a descending trend,” he said.